January 22, 2012

Invisibility…and Other Superhero Powers I Lack

Invisibility…and Other Superhero Powers I Lack

Hey, come on. We’re superheroes. What could happen?

~ Mr. Incredible

I came into the office the other day to a rather unpleasant surprise.

Sitting at my desk I get a call form one of our customer service agents. They often call me with questions or simply to transfer a call…but not this time.

Dr Jacques, says the sweet voice of the young agent on the other end of the line.


I think I saw you running yesterday.


He identifies the spot of one of my regular routes. Yep, that was me. Ack. I am quiet just a moment too long.

You really didn’t look too bad, he says cheerfully. Anyway, just wanted to say I saw you.

And then I probably said something silly like you should wave next time – and I am grateful he can’t see the mortified look on my face. Maybe I’ll never run outside again. Maybe I’ll only do it at night? Do people run in disguise?

Somehow, I just never thought anyone would see me run! I have mentioned on this blog before that I am hesitant to run with others. I am really still pretty insecure about my speed and my form and – well, just about everything. Of course the idea that no one would be able to see me is absurd. I run on or near major streets in a highly populated area. But somehow, headphones on, lost in music and my thoughts, I sort of feel…invisible.

Ok, I also know that I can’t leap over tall buildings, I completely lack x-ray vision and I have already clearly stated that I am not faster than much of anything – but I have had a persistent sense that I am sort of protected from being seen. Until this happened.

Seriously, why is it that only superheroes get to have secret identities anyway?

I am rarely self-conscious. I have spent more than 10 years as a regular public speaker – sometimes on a large stage in front of hundreds (occasionally thousands) of people. In the early days I used to get anxious, but mostly now, I feel at ease and relaxed and frankly comfortable. Why? Because I am an expert. People ask me to be on that stage because I am knowledgeable about some special topics and I have spoken about them a lot and I am pretty good at it.

But with running I am once again a novice. And in some sense every time I go out that door, it is a bit like my early days doing public speaking: I want to turn around and hide. I might want to get just a little bit sick.

Mind you, it gets a bit better each time I run. I have run side-by-side with people I know on a treadmill and I have not felt entirely mortified. I have run past as few of my neighbors and they might say hey and I don’t feel entirely like I want to cringe.

Being self-conscious is a funny thing. It often stands in the way of doing something you might really like. I have had to overcome it several times in my life, so I know I can do it again. It’s one part confidence, one part comfort, one part…well, maybe for me it’s just partly maintaining the magical belief of invisibility a little bit longer!

Happy Sunday.

And an extra Happy Birthday to my son who is 10 today!








Leave a comment
  1. Nora Streed
    January 23, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    I totally know what you mean. For a while I ran with a friend who is everything I am not: thin, perfect running form, perfect hair, perfect running outfits. Barely ever even sweats. She did her real training runs without me, and patiently jogged at my side as I puffed and panted and sweat and limped my way through our gradually lengthening runs. It made me feel both better and worse, somehow. On the one hand, people might not notice me in the presence of a much more competent and attractive runner (yay!). On the other hand, if they do notice me, they will compare the two of us and, well, that’s just too embarrassing to think about. Except that the only people who ever said anything were supportive and enthusiastic.

  2. Diaryoffatdad
    January 23, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

    I got this link through Dr. Sharma, who I have seen posting your blog posts via facebook and decided to give a read. great post, I am going to have to backtrack and get caught up in your blog but it is great so far.
    you touched on something here that hits home. When I am at home i run, put the music on put my head down eyes straight and i pretend that the strangers around me can’t see me, lost in my own world. for some reason away from my home or my gym that mentality changes, perhaps its because i do not know the routes that would keep me away from most of the public eye, or that i just can’t be comfortable outside my natural habitat, i find it is the worst when i travel to conferences, where there are many collegues, all of which are very fit and daily runners, i often avoid running there for fear of one of these experts seeing me. I feel as if at the conference, speaking and presenting I am one of their equals, but for the love of god if they ever saw me running that would all change and they would take nothing I said serious.
    This is something I have never really thought about so thank you for this post it identified another area for me to put some attention too.


    • Jacqueline Jacques
      January 23, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

      Hi FD – thanks for visiting.
      I have just flagged your blog so I can look at that as well!
      You touched here upon what has been one of my exact issues over the past 7 months. I really took up running (you’ll find this in past posts) because I needed a “portable” for of exercise when I travel to conferences (which I do a lot). And as you know – there is more or less a treadmill in every hotel in the world…so no excuses, right! Until very recently, what I used to do was either set an alarm for something like 5 AM or actually sneak away during a meeting so that I could assure within reason that I would be on the treadmill when no one (preferable) or at least no one I knew would be there. Only very recently have I had a couple of experiences of ending up on a treadmill next to a colleague or someone I know – and I had to initially avoid the serious temptation to abruptly end my workout and flee…I am working with that now. And truthfully, when I was able to do it, it ended up being a very positive experience and not uncomfortable in the long run. Also trying to get comfortable with the idea that I can acknowledge someone but I don’t actually have to hold a conversation with them while I run (the headphones definitely help with this!)
      Anyway, great comment and I do hope you return as I would welcome more.